Zoe Berg, Senior Photographer

After a six-month search process,  the New Haven Board of Education announced and confirmed Madeline Negron as New Haven Public Schools’ Superintendent  in a Special Session on April 19. Her term will begin on June 1. 

Negrón currently serves as the Interim Assistant Superintendent at Hartford Public Schools and previously as the Director of Education for NHPS under former Superintendent Carol Birks. When she takes office, she will become the first Hispanic Superintendent of a district that now has a plurality Hispanic population. 

Board of Education Member Darnell Goldson released the name of Negrón as the new Superintendent on Monday ahead of the official confirmation against the wishes of other city officials. 

“Dr. Negrón knows New Haven and its schools very well,” Board President Yesenia Rivera told the News. “At the same time, her experience in Hartford has encompassed many of the same issues we face here in New Haven. She can bring a fresh perspective and a strong leadership voice to our ongoing conversations about strategy in all aspects of our mission.”

During her tenure in New Haven Public Schools, she served as the principal of the Hill Regional Career Magnet High School and Director of Instruction as well as Director of Early Childhood for NHPS. Under Birks, Negrón served as the Director of Education. Prior to serving in New Haven, Negrón worked as a middle school teacher in Willimantic where her family moved to from Puerto Rico. 

After leaving New Haven during Birks’ tenure, Negrón worked as the Acting Deputy Superintendent of Academics and School Leadership for the Hartford Public Schools where she also served as the Chief of Academics, Teaching, Learning and Student Support. 

“I am eager to start meeting, listening and learning from the entire community to hit the ground running as there is no time to waste in affording our students access to equitable opportunities to realize their hopes and dreams,” Negrón told the News. “I am grateful for the foundation that has been established by Dr. Ilene Tracy and her cabinet, which will serve as my springboard to lead the New Haven Public Schools to its next chapter of excellence.”

Tracey informed the community of her decision to retire at the end of the 2022-2023 school year after almost 40 years of service in New Haven Public Schools. She retired amid a wave of controversy following high levels of chronic absenteeism, a fall in test scores and a debate over the district’s reading education methods. 

Tracey was originally tapped in 2019 to serve as an Interim Superintendent after her predecessor, Carol Birk’s, contract was bought out by the Board of Education. Tracey was confirmed as non-interim Superintendent for the 2020-2021 school year. 

Birks resigned mid-year following controversy related to her management style, which relied heavily on consultants and data analysts. Birks’ stint was also tainted by claims that she tried to hide payments to strategic planners through the use of purchase orders. 

According to Rivera, Negrón was one of 31 candidates who applied for the job after the consulting firm McPherson and Jacobson, Board of Education members and community members developed a search criteria for the district. 

After the candidates applied, they interviewed with the Board of Education’s personnel search committee and also spoke with community members through organized stakeholder meetings. 

“The search committee narrowed the field to three finalists, including an internal candidate, Viviana Conner,” Rivera told the News. “Each of the three finalists were interviewed by the committee, as well as panels of students, parents, teachers, administrators and staff, community and business leaders.” 

Search parameters for the district included a focus on providing a strong academic program that facilitated student engagement and achievement, building opportunities for students to increase graduation rate, working to retain teachers and staff and advancing a culture of fiscal responsibility. 

Members of the community who spoke at the meeting spoke in favor of the nomination thanking the district for choosing someone who represents New Haven. 

“Thank you thank you thank,” Mita Diaz told the Board of Education. “I have seen Negrón and how passionate she is about New Haven, our schools, our kids. Gracias…I can’t even speak English right now.” 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker told the News that Negrón is an “inspiring choice” for the district whose “personal lived-experience” and “professional experience” will help students and the district thrive. 

New Haven Public Schools serves 19,000 students. 

Yash Roy covered City Hall and State Politics for the News. He also served as a Production & Design editor, and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chair for the News. Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, he is a '25 in Timothy Dwight College majoring in Global Affairs.